Angel Tree program running short on toys
PORT CHARLOTTE — The shelves at the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program distribution center aren’t empty, but they’re nowhere close to being able to handle the upcoming demand of 1,100 kids expecting Christmas presents.
The deadline for the program, which helps needy families by having members of the community select an angel from an “angel tree” and buy Christmas presents for the child listed on the angel, is fast approaching, and hundreds of kids may be left without a gift, according to Debbie Domer.
As the Christmas coordinator for the program, Domer said the pace at which items have been coming into the distribution center is much slower than it was in years past. Of the 1,100 children registered in the program, so far only 150 will have gifts, she said.
The Angel Trees are located around Charlotte County, in locations like Walmart, the Port Charlotte Town Center mall and the Charlotte Sun, according to Domer. And while some of the kids wrote larger items on the cards like bicycles and electronic equipment, Domer said that these were merely wish list items, and that sponsors don’t have to buy what’s on the card.
Instead, for about $40, a sponsor can buy three inexpensive gifts and a few items of clothing for the child they’re helping. Or, for those who want to simply buy a few toys, the Salvation Army will have trucks at the Walmart stores at Murdock Circle and in Deep Creek on Saturday for easy donations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Something is going to have to happen. We have to have the toys,” Domer said.
Right now, the Salvation Army has some toys for kids up to age 7, but beyond that age group it has next to nothing. The due date for toys and other gifts is Dec. 10, and the items are set to be distributed on Dec. 17 and Dec. 18.
Wanda Velez, a captain with the Salvation Army, thinks the economy is having an effect on the rate at which toys are coming into the distribution center. But she also thinks there could be a number of people who have picked up an angel and simply forgot, or are waiting for their Christmas bonuses before giving back to the program.
Whatever the reason, Velez just wants to make sure that all 1,100 kids currently registered have a good Christmas morning.
“Some people can’t afford to celebrate,” Velez said. “That’s why we want to help, to make sure they have the same joy and spirit that others have.”
For more information, contact Domer at 239-470-8964. The distribution center is located in the Peachland Promenade, next to the Hallmark store, which fronts Kings Highway.